Like many of you I began turning wood in Junior High School. Growing up in Richland, Washington in the fifties enabled me to have a friend for a wood shop instructor. Working with my father we built all of the kitchen cabinets in the process of totally remodeling our home. As a result my fondness for working with wood led me to build a wide assortment of useful things from a grape crusher for wine making to a hydroplane for fun on the river. While visiting an uncle in Southern California he noticed my excitement about wood turning and he gave me a lathe that he never used. With paper route earnings I purchased tools from Sears and my dad and I began turning on our midsized lathe. This ended when I left home for college except for visits home. When my father was gone my lathe came back to me.
After seeing pens in a woodworking store in Port Townsend I said to my wife like so many of you, “I could make that!” Years later I wandered into a store and discovered pen kits and asked how to make them. The owner gave me a three minute lesson and after purchasing the needed extras for the lathe I began my current wood turning adventures.
Delving into the many turnings that could be made on a small lathe with excitement growing a customer came to me for eyewear and I found that he rebuilds lathes as a hobby. We worked out a deal for a larger lathe. It was poor at best and eventually it was sold and a brand new General lathe came home. Borrowing a chuck from my friend Tom Bageant started me on the path to bowl turning. Many folks had told us about this club and Tom and I thought it would probably be a dozen old guys sitting around talking about their past exploits. Finally we decided to give it a try. Wow, were we off base. We were stunned at the quality of turning and vibrancy of the members. We joined that night. After a few sawdust sessions and being befriended by Eric Lofstrom I began turning bowls that were a little better.
The real turning point was Eric giving me a rough turned Madrone burl bowl. That was so exciting to turn. Dave Schweitzer noticed my excitement and asked me to come and see him. He had no idea what he was in for. After a long day at Dave’s he finally got rid of me after six in the evening. This began a marathon of turning wet wood and learning and practicing the techniques that had been shown. Two hundred rough turned bowls later there were signs of hope in my finished bowls. A need for a larger lathe became very important and so the General lathe was sold and a Powermatic came home.
Back to Dave’s and now hollow forms started popping up at home. A day with Roy Lane helped that experience as well. So much to learn and so little time, with lots of practice happiness ensued. Urns, baby rattles and vases appeared, some with dyed and some natural finishes.
The many demonstrators at our club and others continued to teach techniques that were new to me. With practice these new methods became easier to use and enabled me to produce better results. Basically, this club and its members totally changed my life. It continues to get better and better. What else is there to say, this is why I am so excited when the third Thursday of the month comes around.